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An open letter to Brendon Marotta - UPDATE

December 4, 2019 Updated January 3, 2020

Dear Brendon,

I caught the tail end of the 51-minute Facebook livestream video that you recorded on Tuesday evening. The section of interest to me runs from 42:44 to 48:22. You repeatedly said that it's very interesting that the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical organizations and individual physicians have not issued any criticism or rebuttal of your anti-circumcision documentary. You called it a "tell".

One part that piqued my interest was when you appeared to refer to Circumcision Choice - without mentioning us by name. You said,

"And the other thing that's a really interesting tell os that they haven't even responded through proxies... Even the smaller people haven't responded, which is kind of interesting. Like if you're ... a group that just - all they does [sic] is hate on intactivists, talkin about why circumcision is great - it wouldn't take much to write a review. Right? So just write, like, here's what the film said. Here's the parts we think are true; here's where we disagree with. Point; counterpoint. Right? I could write a blog post like that in an afternoon.

It's been a year after the film's out. And no one's done that. That's kind of interesting, right? And it shows ... it shows something. And that's really interesting, too, because it's not like those groups aren't aware of me. Like, people will write a blog post about some comment I made on social media [indecipherable] upset about that. But they haven't reviewed the film. That's what we call a tell...

You said that you included scientific studies like the Sorrells study, the Taddio studies, and studies on trauma, pain, and memory. You defined your film as "the most scientifically accurate film ever made about circumcision." You concluded that the only reason no one has issued any criticism or rebuttal of your film is that it is completely accurate, your critics have no argument against it, and your critics are afraid to watch it because it might change their minds.

On behalf of Circumcision Choice, I will respond.

Circumcision Choice is an international organization of parents, doctors, nurses, and other concerned citizens. Circumcision Choice is an independent group; we are not a proxy for anyone. The AAP does not fund us. The AAP does not tell us what to say or do. The AAP wasn't even aware of us prior to our 2016 counter-protest in San Francisco. We occasionally communicate with the AAP, but we have never coordinated with them. And we don't always agree with them.

We are not pro circumcision. We are pro parents choice. We support a parent's right to choose for or against the procedure. We mock, we counter, and we pity intactivists. We don't "hate on intactivists". We do report on their words and actions. Everything we report is true.

Writing a point-by-point rebuttal is not a simple as you suggest. Each analysis can take weeks or months of research, composition, editing, and polishing, and is reviewed by a panel including medical experts.

I have written a dozen comprehensive analyses of scientific studies and articles. For example, I wrote extensive refutations of Kristen O'Hara's "Sex as Nature Intended It" survey; Gregory Boyle's analysis of infant circumcision harm; and Eran Elhaik's study linking circumcision and SIDS. I spent three months editing and formatting a refutation of Rebecca Dekker's lengthy circumcision analysis written by Melanie Lindwall Schaab I am not afraid to examine a scholarly source that presents a contrary viewpoint. Despite your six-year devotion to produce American Circumcision, despite its position on Netflix, and despite your celebrity status in the intactivist movement, I question whether your film is as important and groundbreaking as you believe. I concede that you may convince viewers who lack critical thinking skills. And you won some awards - from judges whose roles don't include researching scientific studies. As far as I know, you're just a guy with a camera. Like me, you have no scholarly credentials in medicine, psychology, sexuality, religion, history, or law. You have no more expertise on the subject matter than I do.

Circumcision Choice already addressed the studies you mentioned in your live video. We explained the weaknesses and limitations of the Sorrells study in our article on the 20,000 nerve endings. I addressed the Taddio studies - as well as several studies on trauma, pain, and memory - in my article about psychological damage. The AAP and the Centers for Disease Control also have addressed these and several other studies that intactivists typically cite.

Your assertion that lack of criticism validates your film is an example of the Argument from Silence fallacy. By your logic each of the scholarly analyses posted on this website is confirmed to be scientifically accurate and truth-based - because no one has bothered to refute it. Some of our articles have been available to the public for far longer than your movie.

I would watch American Circumcision under one of two conditions. Either (a) I am preparing to debate you, or (b) someone offers me a $100 reward if I can identify at least one pro-foreskin or anti-circumcision statement in the film that is factually wrong. Otherwise, to be honest it just isn't worth my time.

While I don't speak on behalf of the AAP, I do know that the AAP is not pro circumcision. Nor is the AAP part of a "circumcision industry". Their members offer circumcision as one of the hundreds of pediatric services they provide. Browsing their Facebook page, it's clear that this professional medical organization handles thousands of papers, studies, programs, and concerns to promote children's health, These concerns go far beyond the one subject that occupies the feverish minds of intactivists 24/7/365. You shouldn't feel snubbed. The AAP also ignores Intact America, despite the group's 50,000+ Facebook fans and Georganne Chapin's cable news appearances and Huffington Post columns. I don't blame the AAP for not making time to babysit the intactivist movement and respond to your absurd claims and bogus studies.

Finally, you have demonstrated that you, Brendon, are not interested in criticisms or corrections. Your reaction to our comment on your page pointing out your mistakes about California law was to hide the comment from other readers. A Circumcision Choice fan reports that she notified you of an error in your film; you falsely claimed that circumcision is the most common medical procedure in the United States. Rather than admit the mistake you simply blocked her from your page. Three years ago you reported James Loewen's defamatory accusation without even trying to contact us for a response. [1] When you saw us on the sidewalk in Orlando last year, you walked past without bothering to greet us or ask any questions. These are not the actions of someone who has a sincere interest in obtaining critical analysis of his magnum opus.


Andrew Gross

Circumcision Choice


I received this reply late on the evening of January 1st. My response follows.

Dear Brendon,

Thank you for your prompt reponse to my letter. In addition to posting your reply, I've flagged this update in the post title. [2] [3] A couple of points about my offer:

First, I appreciate that you ignored my offer to watch the film if I am preparing to debate you. Given that I have no formal debate experience and suffer from glossophobia, you'd probably kick my ass.

Second, the $100 offer is to anyone, not you specifically. The payment would apply if and only if I document a factual error. If I find that American Circumcision is completely accurate, as you claim, then no payment would be due.

Your counter-offer - to personally screen the film for me for $1,000 - is tempting, as is your $3,000 consultation fee. Feedback from the producer in real time during my scrutiny of the film would be helpful. But not necessary.

The Circumcision Choice team has informed me that if I were so inclined, I could view your film on Netflix for free. Plus Netflix would allow me to pause and rewind, so that I could accurately transcribe any false statements. Your message didn't indicate whether you would allow such functions during the private screening.

It's true that a computer screen doesn't provide the impact of the big screen. But let's be honest, Brendon: your film is no Star Wars. After careful consideration, I'll decline your counter-offer and allocate the $4,000 for a Caribbean cruise with my wife to celebrate our upcoming wedding anniversary. (My sincere congratulations, by the way, on your engagement.)

At any rate, my offers regarding American Circumcision remain open.


Andrew Gross

[1] When I contacted you about the matter, you did add an update at the bottom of your post. You did not mention the update at the top of your post nor in the relevant section, such that readers who don't scroll to the end will not even be aware of my response.

[2] Posting a response (from the subject of one's negative portrayal) in a prominent manner is a sign of intellectual honesty.

[3] I'm also posting the link to this post on our Facebook page, preempting our originally scheduled daily post.

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